Nate Hendrix was serious about music when he was four years old. The plethora of instruments he plays include the piano, saxophone, guitar, bass, and drums.
His R&B album Trillionaire is a reflection of the music which inspires him. Collaborating with fellow artists Roco., Chanzie Jones, Jada Somiah, Dre Fitz, Ari Carpenter and A9Beatz, Trillionaire’s soft melodies and bouncing drums incorporate influences from Prince, Michael Jackson, Charlie Parker, Stevie Wonder, and Kanye West.
Like many Oakland musicians, Hendrix first began in church. He immediately fell in love, and knew this is what he needed to spend his life doing.
“I was super nitpicky until last year. I never put anything out because I didn’t think it was perfect.Nate Hendrix
Hendrix forced himself to release more than 50 songs over the past year, wanting to break the habit of hoarding his artwork.
“I was super nitpicky until last year,” Hendrix said. “I never put anything out because I didn’t think it was perfect.”
He wanted to release as many songs as he could to help him overcome being too much of a perfectionist. He states that his goal for this year is to release more quality works, however, as he is now more comfortable sharing his art with the world.
Trillionaire begins with funky “Like You”, and includes Roco. working on the bass line. Hendrix recalls Roco disappearing for a few minutes then returning with the lyrics, “I’ve been searching for some time/For somebody like you.”
Hendrix’s line, “City view with the red wine/Lights off like bedtime,” were inspired by his love for red wine and hanging out on Grizzly Peak, staring out over San Francisco and seeing the Golden Gate in the distance.
True to its name, “Discoman” incorporates many disco beats. Chanzie Jones sings “It ain’t easy/being me” before jumping into a rap. “Oh I love myself/Do you love yourself?/I came into this world with burdens/But know that I am so worth it.”
Hendrix’s jumping bass-line and drums show a clear reflection of Stevie Wonder’s experimentalism.
“I was studying Stevie Wonder at the time,” Hendrix said. “And I liked how his chord progressions were experimental, but made sense. So I wanted to do something like that.”
A catchy guitar starts off “Don’t Need You” as Jada Somiah and Roco start with “I don’t need ya/I don’t need your love/ I don’t you”.
“Don’t Need You” was written when Hendrix was spending time at 25th Street working on a song with Roco. Jada Somiah and Ari Carpenter was also hanging around, and they suggested both join in. Jada Somiah’s harmonious voice and soft lyrics were freestyled, while Hendrix fine-tuned the drums and guitar, while Carpenter laid the bass and keys.
“She was just knocking out harmonies,” Hendrix said.
“It’s good to get some extra perspective”Nate Hendrix
Despite his ability to play most instruments, Hendrix feels it’s important to have collaboration. While working on “Alcohol” Roco came up with the guitar parts as Chanzie Jones did his verse in one take.
“It’s good to get some extra perspective,” Hendrix said.
“Alcohol” includes both Roco and Chanzie Jones as they sing about liking a girl while when they’re sober. Their smooth voices lay over the deep bass and soft keyboard while Dre Fitz played Rhodes.
“FWU” incorporates a more bouncy beat. Hendrix says Roco’s first verse was going to be, “If I miss ya/Imma kiss ya,” as a joke, but later moved the lyric to the end.
Hendrix adds that Chanzie Jones had done the chorus in only one take.
Hendrix considers “I Want You to Know” to be more of Chanzie Jones’ story.
“He came up with the lyrics and everything,” Hendrix said.
The song is mostly made of drums and bass, the instrumentals repeating throughout the course before a soft interlude before finishing off the song.
Trillionaire’s final track, “Music” incorporates numerous strings and the piano. Hendrix says he the strings remind him of Perry Mason.
“Music” begins with melodic strings and strong piano chords. Each chord spurs chills, with Roco asking “Can you feel the feeling/The feeling of music?”
“I really wanted to do the string arrangement,” Hendrix said. “With the original version I just remember having that last part on repeat.”
Only a few days after dropping Trillionaire, Hendrix released a two-track House EP, Nova, made with Dan Norwick and John Walkersix. Despite the differences in genre, Hendrix’s signature sound style carries through.
“To do house I still play the way I normally play,” Hendrix said.
Nova included the final two tracks to help him achieve his goal of 50 songs in a year, totaling Hendrix at 51 releases in 2019.
“I want my family to listen to it. I didn’t want a lot of profanity, I wanted to keep it cleanNate Hendrix
For Hendrix, an important aspect of his music is that it’s more “family-friendly”. The majority of tracks on Trillionaire do not include any profanity.
“I want my family to listen to it,” Hendrix said. “I didn’t want a lot of profanity, I wanted to keep it clean.”
He includes that this is also helpful for if his music were to be played on the radio.
“I won’t have to re-record multiple versions of a song to be released,” Hendrix said.
Most of his time is spent at 25th Street honing his craft. He gains inspiration from poetry, pictures, Austin Powers, and almost any other form of art.
“But it’s more an interest in how it was done,” Hendrix said. “I like to nerd out and do research on it, what equipment they used to get those sounds.”
While he draws inspiration from most things, Hendrix continues to be authentically himself.
“I never tried to sound like anybody else,” Hendrix said. “I just wanted to do me.”
Follow Nate Hendrix on Instagram @trillionairehendrix